Today we are introducing you to Robert who runs a tour guide small business called Kimberley Cultural Adventures, as well as a bush tucker and natural ointment business called Bindam Mie.
Robert has big dreams for how his bush tucker company and tour guide small business can impact his community, culture and Country. He shares the history of the region he grew up in during Kimberley Cultural Adventures’ bus tours through Broome. Alongside this, Robert has started Bindam Mie which is a company that turns boab nuts into beer and other products such as iced tea and ointments.
“Other services that have helped me with a business plans were one-off services. The services that Many Rivers can provide to me as one of their clients is to continue with me through all the stages of my business plan.”
In February 2019, SBS wrote an article about Robert and his bush tucker small business, Bindam Mie. They called his boab beer a ‘must-drink.’
“He’s never touched a drink in his life, yet an Indigenous entrepreneur has crafted a “delicious” beer using nuts from local trees.”
Read the full article here.
I have been operating Kimberley Cultural Adventures for about 5-6 years. It has been getting bigger and it is starting to pick up again now. I am a tour operator in Broome. In my tours I give the history of Broome from when I was growing up here as a kid. I tell Western Australian tourists and International tourists local history. Then I give them a taste of bush foods around this region.
I am a qualified chorographer so I teach dance. So I was teaching the young kids around here about Aboriginal contemporary style dancing as well for about 15 years before I decided to open my tour guide small business. We had a dance community group to teach kids dancing and to have belief and confidence in themselves.
Deciding To Go Into Business
A friend of mine told me about Many Rivers and the microfinance services they offer. My first loan went towards a partnership to sell Digeridoos here in Broome. I’ve since pulled away from the joint venture. Now I concentrate on my tourism and my bush food businesses.
A friend of mine saw me going looking for grants for the dance group to pay me as a dance teacher and other dance teachers working for us. They told me to look after myself first and then when I am successful, I’ll have a wage and so I can go back to helping the kids. Because I was receiving government support this friend told me to look after myself first and then take care of other people.
I used to walk everywhere around town. Now I have my own bus! I feel confident that I can do things now. The biggest thing is being independent and being able to pay my bills off as well. My success is seeing my tour guide small business starting to pay off and I am very happy with what I am doing now.
Working with Many Rivers
Kris, my Many Rivers business coach, has been helping me with my cashflow and just helping me with that part of my business. The next part that we are working on to now is building the second business. Many Rivers will be helping me with that to grow my business plan. The tourism business walks hand in hand with my new bush tucker business. It provides tourists with the experience, but they are separate businesses.
I find it useful because other services that have helped me with a business plans were one-off services. The services that Many Rivers can provide to me as one of their clients is to continue with me through all the stages of my business plan. Kris told me a few months ago to just expand my business and take it to the next level. The tourism is great, but I also do bush foods as well. Now I am getting up to the stage where I am working on expanding my bush food products that I have.
The first loan was to get the digeridoo products from Queensland. I then got a bigger loan to get a four-wheel drive for my tours. When I had paid that back, my business was starting to pick up a bit more, so I got an even bigger loan. Many Rivers helped me purchase a tour bus. I have now paid all my loans back.
The biggest challenge is getting a bookkeeper and to keep everything in line. At the moment, I have a lady that does my taxes for me. I have to start to delegate my jobs to other people to make my business grows and that I am not doing too much myself. I am starting to look for a bookkeeper. That will also give me more confidence that I am up to date.
The biggest achievement is getting all of my products such as the ice-tea, ointments and Boab powder into the local shops of the town I grew up in, Broome. I got my Boab iced teas into the local shops and into the chemist. People have been seeing them there. They are really proud to see that it is done by a local man. The products I make are the same as what I remember tasting as a kid and they are happy to see me take it further.
Future Goals For His Small Business
I want to do more in the Kimberley with my bush food and tourism and build regional economic development. I have a processing shed just out of Broome where we can start to make our own drinks and ointments. But I plan to only sell it here in the Kimberly, not out of the Kimberley.
At the moment it is just me and I operate the tours by myself. As we keep expanding, I will need up to 4-5 employees to help me. I will expand to do more tours in Broome but also another tour in Eagle Bay and give all the history of that peninsula.
I also plan to train kids to operate the machines, they can do picking or book keeping, I want to train them in many different areas with many different skills. One idea that I have is to pay people to pick the bush food and I pay them per kilogram or a daily rate. So that’s what I want to see with my businesses – my business supporting local family members of Broome with employment. Also doing my part to maintain the country and stop mining from coming into our country. All the bush foods are seasonal, and we need to take care of country.
Thanks Robert for sharing your business journey so far. We are excited to see where it will take you. If you would like to follow Robert’s business journey, follow Bindam Mie on Instagram. We want to encourage more and more people to take that first step towards building on their small business ideas, or existing business.
We’re here to support you the whole way.
Please take the quick Small Business Self-Assessment and see if we are right for you.
If you loved this client story and would like to hear another, read about Debra, the small business owner of Bunni Beez, who sells delicious cinnamon buns that keep you coming back for more.